May 6, 2021 - Energy & Environment

FAA announces hefty fines for maskless, unruly passengers

A Delta Airlines jet takes off at Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport 30 May, 2006 in St.Paul, MN.
Photo: /Karen Bleier/AFP via Getty Images

The Federal Aviation Administration announced plans to impose massive fines on four airline passengers for unruly behavior, including two who allegedly assaulted flight attendants after refusing to comply with face mask guidelines.

Why it matters: The proposed civil penalties ranging from $9,000 to $32,750 are part of the FAA's new "zero tolerance" policy, introduced after an uptick in incidents of disobedient passengers on flights stemming from their refusal to wear masks and January's U.S. Capitol riot. Airlines have reported some 1,300 cases since February — about 1,000 more than in a typical year.

What's happening: Per an FAA statement, the transportation agency plans to fine one person $32,750 for allegedly grabbing and striking two flight attendants and hurling an empty alcohol bottle and food around after refusing to wear a mask on a February 7 jetBlue Airlines flight from the Dominican Republic to New York.

  • Another person faces a $16,500 fine for repeatedly refusing to comply with face covering requirements before becoming "combative" and abusing two flight attendants, hitting another with his bags on a January 26 Southwest Airlines flight from Chicago, Ill., to Sacramento, Calif.
  • The FAA plans to impose a $9,000 fine on a passenger who refused to comply with mask requirements on a January 30 Alaska Airlines flight from Bozeman Mont., to Seattle, Wash., causing the captain to return the flight to the gate, where the passenger was removed from the plane.
  • A woman who refused to stay in her seat with her seatbelt fastened on a Dec. 22, 2020 Delta Air Lines flight from Minneapolis, Minn., to Philadelphia, Penn., leading the flight to return to Minneapolis, also faces a $9,000 fine.
Go deeper